Monday, February 23, 2015

Pursuing a Common Language

Attendees enjoy the 2015 C3 Conference trade show produced by CSI Willamette Valley Chapter at the Eugene Hilton (my photo)
Construction communication and collaboration was again the focus of the biggest design & construction forum on the annual calendar for the Willamette Valley Chapter of the Construction Specifications Institute. The well-attended C3 Conference took place this past Thursday at the Eugene Hilton Hotel & Conference Center. If you weren’t there, you missed out on a terrific opportunity to learn, network, and celebrate. 
Like the 2014 edition, this year’s conference rewarded attendees with the opportunity to attend free educational seminars and a diverse product show. The organizers underscored the conference’s communication and collaboration theme by inviting everyone in the local construction industry to attend. It brought together the people who build our community—the architects, engineers, contractors, suppliers, owners, bankers, and others—to advance matters of common interest. 
Jointly hosted by AIA-Southwestern Oregon and NAWIC Eugene, C3 spotlighted a growing optimism for the immediate future. The focus of this year’s event was the “Projects in the Pipe Line” dinner presentation. It featured leading lights from four institutions responsible for a notable percentage of planned future developments: 
Eugene School District 4J
Roosevelt Middle School design by Mahlum & Robertson/Sherwood/Architects

Jon Lauch is 4J’s Director of Facilities Management. Thanks to the munificence of Eugene’s voters, Jon could happily report about the progress of several major new school building projects: 
  • Howard Elementary School – Currently under construction, the design by PIVOT Architecture along with DOWA-IBI Group is scheduled for occupancy next February.
  • River Road Elementary School – Also designed by the team of PIVOT/DOWA-IBI, the new school’s site package will be executed this coming summer. Following will be completion of the school gymnasium by Summer 2016, with all construction completed by Fall of 2017.
  • Roosevelt Middle School – Now ready for bidding, the new Roosevelt Middle School is scheduled to be ready for students by Fall 2016. The project is designed by Robertson/Sherwood/Architects (my firm) with Mahlum Architects of Portland.
  • Jefferson Middle School/Arts & Technology Academy – Rowell Brokaw Architects has teamed with Opsis Architecture of Portland to design the massive makeover of the existing Jefferson Middle School. Construction will begin in Spring 2016 with a targeted completion date of Fall 2017.
  • Gilham Elementary School GMA Architects is designing a new addition for the school.

City of Springfield
Simpson's mural in downtown Springfield (my photo)

John Tamulonis is the Community Development Manager for the City of Springfield. Self-deprecatingly, John opened his presentation by claiming the city has no shortage of plans but is short on funds to implement them. But what big plans they are! They include significant and very real projects by other public agencies and private businesses who call Springfield home: 

City of Eugene
New Eugene City Hall (by Rowell Brokaw Architects & Miller/Hull)

Denny Braud is the City of Eugene’s Community Development Manager. Denny started by highlighting the numerous projects developed in the downtown core in just the past few years and the very real renaissance they’ve spurred there. Some of the exciting downtown projects currently in the pipeline include:

In addition, the city expects numerous other projects to begin construction in the coming year, including:

  • Bascom Village (101 new units of affordable housing)
  • Turtle Creek affordable housing (20 single-family units)
  • West Eugene EmX extension ($94 million; service projected to start in 2017)
  • Public Works Wastewater Treatment Plant improvements
  • Eugene Airport upgrades (including a new baggage carousel and ticket counter modifications)
  • Hynix plant transformation into a multi-tenant data storage facility
Denny cited some notable statistics from the past year. The city issued permits for $338 million worth of construction projects in 2014, a 15-year high. There were 1,100 individual building projects, which required more than 51,000 separate inspections. There’s no doubt Eugene is on a roll with the promise of much more in 2015. 

University of Oregon

Price Science Commons, by Opsis Architecture

Chris Ramey, AIA, LEED Green Associate, is the University of Oregon’s Associate Vice-President for Campus Planning and Real Estate. Chris described an exciting variety of projects currently in the design stages for UO’s Eugene campus. These include the following large CM/GC projects (projections for when subcontractor bidding will occur are in parentheses):

  • New Residence Hall (February-August 2015)
  • Jane Sanders Stadium (April-July 2015)
  • Price Science Commons Addition/Renovation (April-July 2015)
  • Columbia 150 Lecture Hall Remodel (Spring 2015)
  • Bradford Building (Spring-Summer 2015)
Chris also described numerous smaller projects:
  • HVAC improvements at the Computing Center, Deschutes Hall, and various residence halls (Spring 2015)
  • Central Power Station Roof Replacement (February-March 2015)
  • Gerlinger Hall Complete Building Envelope Restoration (February-March 2015)
  • Campus Sewer Line Replacements (April-June 2015)
  • Knight Library Interior Reconfiguration (June-September 2015)
  • Onyx Bridge and Klamath Hall Lab Remodeling (Winter/Spring/Summer/Fall 2015)

Additionally, Chris invited everyone to attend the UO Reverse Vendor Fair, which takes place this coming Wednesday, February 25 at the Club room at Autzen Stadium. The fair is an opportunity to meet with UO and other agency purchasers, and learn how to do business and build partnerships with various university departments.

*    *    *    *    *    *

What was perhaps most impressive about this year’s conference was how quickly it all came together. Big props to the members of the C3 committee, which included Steven Leuck, Alorie Mayer, Zach Rix, Tana Baker, Tom Deines, Linn West, Brian Hamilton, Jim Christian, Kristina Koenig, Loren Berry, Marina Wrensch, Greg Weimer, and Travis Sheridan (forgive me if I’ve failed to list anyone on the committee) for a job well done!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Guest Viewpoint: Steven Leuck

My busy schedule continues to thwart my blogging efforts so I’m thankful I can call on others to provide content for SW Oregon Architect. The following is another reprint from The Documentor, the newsletter of the Willamette Valley Chapter of the Construction Specifications Institute. In this instance WVC/CSI president Steven Leuck wrote the piece in the February 2015 edition as his “From the President” message to the WVC/CSI membership. 
With Steven’s permission, I’m republishing his article here on SW Oregon Architect for the benefit of those who read my blog but do not receive The Documentor. Steven discusses his experience with the design/build project delivery method. 
By Steven Leuck, President WVC/CSI
Design-Build. What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear that term? About 20 years ago or so the term was a new one for me. I had been working for Philips Electric here in Eugene for about 5 years. Up until that time most of what we had been bidding and performing work on was competitively bid commercial, institutional and government projects. As it was explained to me at the time, design-build work would give us the opportunity to work as partners with the other MEP subs, architects, engineers and general contractors. This would put us into a better position to work out issues among ourselves as they arose rather than deal with them as adversaries. When I heard all this for the first time I was excited about the prospect of the design/build process. 
After completing a few design-build projects, I realized the method eased some of the anxiety inherent with the common design-bid-build process. It dawned on me that with the design/bid/build method, the moment you signed the contract, many people felt they were all in adversarial positions. The specifications were often used as guidelines to hammer on each other for either redress or absolution from responsibilities. None of this is enjoyable and it is certainly not a good way to spend a lifetime at this job. The contrast from that viewpoint alone was eye opening for me. 
But, is design-build right for every job and every contractor? Certainly not. Not all contractors, design professionals, and/or developers are well suited to this kind of partnership. Likewise, just as some projects by their very nature are better suited to this method, some projects are not good fits. Wisdom needs to be exercised in deciding which projects should utilize this method and who the team members should be. We could spend a lot of time talking about just these decisions alone. 
However, after all is said and done, the ability to work together with other trades, designers and owners to achieve an effective synergy is very rewarding indeed. Solutions to challenges are worked out with an eye towards cooperation rather than fault-finding. Cooperation is the key ingredient in this method to reach cost-effective solutions for all involved. 
All of this reminds me some of the primary objectives of CSI: “The mission of CSI is to advance building information management and education of project teams to improve facility performance.” How do we do that? Much like the design-build method, we rely on a number of factors such as team-building, cooperation, education, and constant development. 
Ancient biblical writ suggests that no part of the church is better than the other but rather we’re all important parts of the whole. Equally, I’d venture to say that no one part of the design-build team is more important than the others when considered in the aggregate. We are all equal in the task of bringing in a successful project. As we recognize that and work together to find the best solutions to the challenge that is construction, we will build on what we have done and create the synergy we need to become better and better at what we deliver. 
I am proud to be a part of CSI and proud of what CSI provides for its membership and others within the design professions and tradespeople. We make a difference in how things are done and the products we deliver.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Breaking News!

Work and extracurricular obligations are once again getting in the way of my blogging efforts, so I’m opportunely reposting two announcements first broadcast by AIA-Southwestern Oregon. Technically they aren’t exactly “breaking news” items but they are recent, welcome developments. I’m sharing them here for the readers of my blog who are not on AIA-SWO’s mailing list. 

AIA-SWO Has a New Website!
It's current! It's useful! It's easy to update! Welcome to YOUR new AIA-SWO website! 

We hope you find it to be a handy resource for checking the events calendar, reading (and sharing) the latest news, understanding the structure and initiatives of the chapter, and connecting with fellow members. This is still a work in progress, and we welcome your feedback….especially the "I love it!" kind. 

Special thanks goes to our dedicated group of volunteers who made this a reality: Karen Williams, Eleni Tsivitzi, Barbara Harris, and Chris Strang. Also, if you're interested in participating on the Website/Communications Committee, please contact Karen Williams at ( 

Take a few minutes to explore it and let us know what you think! 

Jenna Fribley, AIA, 2015 AIA-SWO Chapter President 

I have perused the new website and I must say it is very nice. It’s absolutely loaded with information in an easy-to-navigate and attractive format. Significantly, as Jenna mentions above, the website will be easy to update. Therein lies the key to its future success: the website needs to be kept current at all times, particularly the calendar. Ditto for the member directory and firm profiles, which at best were only infrequently maintained on the old website. 

Kudos to Karen, Eleni, Barbara, and Chris for a job well done! 

Michael Fifield, FAIA 

Michael Fifield, FAIA named ACSA Distinguished Professor
Michael Fifield, FAIA, University of Oregon Professor of Architecture and former department head, has been recognized by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) as a Distinguished Professor. This award recognizes sustained creative achievement and the advancement of architectural education through teaching, design, scholarship, research, and service. Professor Fifield joins a select group of architectural educators nationwide who have had a profound impact upon their students and distinguished themselves as leaders in architectural education. 

In the 30-year history of the award, a maximum of five are given nationally each year. The University of Oregon Department of Architecture, ranked #1 in Sustainable Design, has the distinction of having one of the highest numbers of ACSA Distinguished Professor Award recipients nationally. Professor Fifield joins other University of Oregon ACSA Distinguished Professors Frances Bronet, Judith Sheine, John Reynolds, FAIA, Howard Davis, and Donald Corner. Fifield says he is humbled to join these colleagues as well as previous winners of the ACSA Distinguished Professors including nationally recognized architects and educators from other universities such as Charles Moore, Fay Jones, Ralph Rapson, Denise Scott-Brown, Romaldo Giurgola, Gunnar Birkerts, and Christopher Alexander. 

Prior to coming to the University of Oregon in 1998, Professor Fifield was department head at Penn State University as well as Director of the Joint Urban Design Program at Arizona State University where he taught for eleven years. He currently is Director of the Housing Specialization Program in the UO Department of Architecture and teaches housing design studios, and subject-area courses including Housing Prototypes, Community Design, and Minimal Dwelling. 

Professor Fifield was recognized for his diverse contributions to education – not only within the academy, but also the profession and community by promoting the value of design excellence in our built environment, as well for his mentorship of students and faculty. While receiving numerous professional practice and teaching awards, Fifield feels most pleased with the significant accomplishments of former students who have gone on to be leaders in the profession. 

The President of ACSA will present a medallion and certificate at the 103rd ACSA Annual meeting in Toronto later this year. Recipients become Fellows of the College of Distinguished Professors of Architecture and may use the title ACSA Distinguished Professor, DPACSA in perpetuity. 

I’ve enjoyed the privilege of seeing Michael in action with his students. He’s always impressed me with his dedication to broadening their appreciation for the challenges posed by society’s need to provide life-enriching, sustainable, and affordable housing options. I've also enjoyed the good fortune to know him as a fellow member of the AIA-SWO board and as a friend. I can’t think of a more deserving person than Michael to receive this national honor.